At the end of November and beginning of December 2013, we spent 3 weeks carrying out a geophysical survey to the East of Papcastle, which produced some of the most unusual results we have seen. The results were strangely magnetic and kept us guessing between archaeology or geology throughout. Although the results appeared to show a rectilinear enclosure on top of the hill, with much activity inside, the strong magnetic signal and slightly blurred appearance suggested geology.
The big question during the survey, as we covered more of the site, was; Are the anomalies in the plot all geological?
We knew that the site was close to the Cockermouth lavas, and when we took the magnetometers to an outcrop of this rock near Hames hall, they went off the scale (+204n T is as high as they will go), yet the plot also showed more defined areas of activity which could be archaeological.
In order to understand these results, we decided to undertake a rapid one day evaluation to determine the cause of the anomalies. We conducted this evaluation in early January 2014 and opened three trenches over the most promising areas. The only archaeological feature recorded was a shallow ditch in trench 1 (marked with blue lines). Trenches 2 and 3 were empty. With the lack of any other archaeological features and no artefacts recorded, this led to the conclusion that the results were geological.
Although this is disappointing, at least now we know that there is no archaeology on the hill to the east and we can concentrate our efforts elsewhere. Despite the geophysical result, the survey site offered us a new perspective on the approach to Derventio along the eastern road and was a beautiful place to work.
The survey plots of the results and the trench locations are in the gallery below, with some photos from site.
We would like to thank all the volunteers who were able to help us during this rather cold survey.
If you would like to join us on future surveys, or any other activity in the project, then please look at the “Get Involved” tab.